Recently, after getting some much needed funds to help me buy more preparedness gear and items for my family, I went to a local Cabela's and bought myself one of their 12" cast iron dutch ovens. I'd been meaning to get one for some time now, and since they were having a great sale on their cast iron cookware, i figured it was a good time to get started learning how to cook in a dutch oven.
Now anyone who cooks, can make soups and stews in a dutch oven, but to bake or roast meats in a dutch oven is a little bit more of a trick. So after getting set up, I figured that the first thing I wanted to try was baking in mine. After some thought, I figured that about the easiest thing you could bake in one was biscuits. And although I don't have a good homemade biscuit recipe or the skills to make them (at least not yet), I decided the best thing was to at least try and make some of the canned biscuits in it.
SO.....since I love the Pillsbury Grands Biscuits so much, it was an easy task to get a can for experimenting with. I found a table online that gives approximate temperatures when using charcoal for the number needed on both top and bottom of the oven for the particular size you are cooking in. I got a three-pack of some aluminum foil-type cake pans to bake them in, and set to work. Since i didn't have a proper trivet to place in the bottom of the oven at the time, I did the next best thing, and used some small, temperature stable stones in the bottom of the oven to hold the pan of biscuits up off the bottom to keep them from burning on that side.
I pre-heated the oven a bit before setting the pan of biscuits in and replacing the lid on the oven for them to bake. I let them bake for the minimum time on the cooking directions, and then pulled the lid off to check them. They were baking well, but appeared to only be about half way done, so I replaced the lid and let them go another 5 minutes. I then checked again, and although they were a bit more done, they still were not completely done yet (golden brown outside), so in for another 5 minutes. After this time in, they were at last done to a golden brown outside, and completely cooked inside. A small bit of real butter, and a spoon full of honey made them just right.
So now I'm going to try my hand at some cornbread, and then a cobbler, pie, cookies, cakes, breads,......you get the picture. And then, on to roasting meat. And as roasting meat is a two-part process which involves browning the outside, and then slow roasting the inside, this is something that is pretty well suited for a dutch oven.
So how about some of the rest of you ? Have any of the rest of you tried using a dutch oven for cooking beyond soups and stews like I just mentioned ? And what about your ovens ? Favorite size...tricks...tips and hints ? What about recipes ?
A piece of gear that I'll be adding to mine is a tripod for simmering soups and stews over an open fire. I have the materials to make my own, and will be working on it real soon. Also, I liked my oven so well, that I purchased another 12" oven from Cabela's before the sale ended. I may get a larger one at a later time, but these will get me going for now. So let's hear from some of the rest of you on this great survival and preparedness gear item. Surely some of you have them as well ???
"It has been said that preparedness and being prepared promotes fear. This isn't true.......being UNPREPARED is what promotes fear."